MASTERS OF SEX 1.08 ‘Love and Marriage’

Episode Title: “Love and Marriage”

Writer: Michael Cunningham

Director: Michael Apted

Previously on “Masters of Sex:”

Episode 1.07 “All Together Now”


We know Bill (Michael Sheen) and Virginia (Lizzy Caplan) will eventually end up together and the fact that she’s acutely in tune to his preferences when it comes to such mundane things as paper clips and mayonnaise makes the inevitable pairing all the more obvious. But as Jane (Helene Yorke) warns Virginia at the top of the episode, it’s usually the mistress who ends up getting hurt when married men cheat. Of course, it’s not really cheating, but rather “work” as Bill likes to call it, that he and Virginia are doing every night while hooked up to monitors that analyze the intensity of their love making.

And the two aren’t the only ones in denial about what’s really going on. After ending her affair with Austin (Teddy Sears) at a train station, Margaret (Allison Janney) strikes up a conversation with a young man at the lounge she and Bill frequent. The man turns out to be Dale (Finn Wittrock), the male prostitute Barton sees. When Barton arrives, Margaret puts it together, but instead of fessing up, Barton tells a lie that’s probably worse than the truth, explaining that Dale sets him up with female prostitutes.

As if it couldn’t get any worse for Margaret, Barton attempts to take her out on a date at the drive-in the next night. It’s a rather juvenile move, which Margaret sees right through. The fact of the matter is that Barton isn’t sexually attracted to her and it’s enough for Margaret to demand an end to their “broken” marriage.

Like Libby, Margaret is an intelligent and intuitive woman and yet she can’t see what’s really going on with Barton. At the same time, Libby (Caitlin Fitzgerald) is also in denial about Bill’s relationship with Virginia. But at least in her case, there are a couple of distractions to keep her mind off her husband’s infidelity, like Walter the handy-man who gives her an impromptu dance lesson in the living room. When Libby feints in his arms, Walter takes her to the hospital where she learns she’s pregnant for the second time. Bill will surely be thrilled to hear the news.

In addition to all the dysfunctional relationships the episodes touches on (Austin deals with break-up guilt by buying his wife a new vacuum cleaner while Vivian’s pushiness spoils Ethan’s romantic proposal plans), a number of social issues come into play. Barton decides to try a kind of “aversion” therapy with Dale that involves taking nausea pills so that the act of having sex with a man will make him physically ill. Dale is offended by the suggestion and though he isn’t happy he’s gay, he doesn’t like the idea of another man being made sick by him.

Meanwhile, handyman Walter is greeted with a range of reactions from surprise by Libby who didn’t realize he’s black to degradation by the doctor at the hospital who refers to him as Libby’s “boy.” The women also get their share of it in this episode with Dr. DePaul (Julianne Nicholson) struggling to get the attention of male doctors during her pap smear presentation and Virginia struggling to get DePaul’s respect when she enrolls in her anatomy class.

At least there’s some progress made with Bill and Virginia’s study. In need of evidence to support their claims, Bill enlists the help of the hospital’s resident film geek, Lester to turn Ulysses into a movie camera. It’s a major step forward for the scientific study of sex, but it’s the relationships that really need examining here.